06 August 2009

Dementia and High Cholesterol Levels

What is your current cholesterol level? Did you ever bother to find out?

A recent study suggests that cholesterol may not only play a role in cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, but also in developing dementia.
High cholesterol levels in midlife --- even cholesterol levels considered only borderline elevated --- significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease 30 years later, results of a large study indicate.

"This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that not only high cholesterol, but also borderline high cholesterol, is associated with dementia," Dr. Rachel Whitmer, the study's senior author, noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health.

Compared to people with "desirable" cholesterol levels below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) in midlife, the risk of Alzheimer's disease three decades later was 57 percent higher in people with high midlife cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL and above.
~ Reuters, 5 August 2009

Most of my patients have borderline to high cholesterol levels. There are only a few who manage to keep their cholesterol levels below 200mg/dL, and this, I think, is not only because of diet restrictions but due to their statin medications.

The same study also stated that "midlife borderline high cholesterol increased the risk of vascular dementia by 50 percent." I think that is a clear warning and a definite eye-opener. Fifty percent is a high number.

To my knowledge, I think this is the first study to link dementia with dietary considerations. Dementia is said to be both a degenerative and genetic consequence. If it can also be influenced by lifestyle modifications, then, this must be good news on the preventive aspect.
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